Somewhere this morning between the toast in one hand, the phone in the other and making school lunches I realised that I had dropped off the eight limbed path of Yoga. I wasn’t thriving but just surviving. I wasn’t even sure if I was alive because I had stopped breathing. Somehow the 8 limbed path of yoga as laid out by Patanjali seemed ridiculous. Where was I going to find time to be kind to myself and the universe, do some yoga postures, breathe properly, control my flaying senses, meditate and then really concentrate on life so I could become one with the divine within and without?
I couldn’t even make the lunches properly.
As yoga teachers it is our duty in some ways to at least do some of these each day, which would be all very fine if you lived in a cave wearing loin clothes. There are so many pressures put on us in daily life that even managing to breathe would seem like you had hit jackpot let alone communing with the divine. So my advice to aspirants is to incorporate a little of what you can into your daily life.
Here are my ways of trying to practice each day.
You don’t need to sit and take time out of your day. In essence meditation is about being really connected to what you do or paying attention to some part of your life with great detail. From writing a shopping list to turning over some dirt, from bathing your child to hanging out the washing, these can all be meditation practices if you bring your awareness to them. When I practice yoga asana I really try to concentrate on moving in and out of the poses skillfully without distraction. This is a form of moving meditation. Walking can also be meditation if you really bring all your attention to how your place your feet, what is around you and the path ahead.
Pranayama is really breath control. You can do this while you do anything. While you walk, sit at your computer, after you have rushed to catch the bus. Just catch your breath, breathe in and out and count the inhales and exhales to a beat. When you turn on the computer take 10 deep long breaths in and out through your nose.
You can really do this anywhere and with anyone. Paying attention to how someone speaks rather than waiting to speak, throwing yourself into your hobby so you are in tune with everything that you are doing and doing one thing at a time are ways to cultivate concentration in everyday life
Just being aware of your posture while you stand is asana. Sitting on the floor instead of a seat is asana. Breathing consciously and doing both is yoga.
Practice for today: Choose one area you would like to work on and try it for a day or week. You don’t need more time or special skills, there are many techniques to thriving in your life. Just pick one and don’t worry if it’s not perfect. This is the practice as well.